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PepsiCo is suing farmers in India who have planted the variety of potatoes that the company uses in its potato chips.

When seeds or artificially bred/modified species of crops are patented by corporations, it sometimes leads to tricky situations.

There are the intellectual property protection issues, which protect the rights of businesses and individuals such as PepsiCo, who have “invented” something new. On the other hand, there is the right of farmers to their livelihoods.

This type of dispute has become problematic, with the likes of Monsanto, which ended up creating economic dependence, and indirectly economically enslaved the farmers. For example, this happened in BT Cotton seeds in India.

In my opinion, as a food security advocate, and also as a lawyer, PepsiCo is right in this case, and the farmers must stop using the seeds. PepsiCo in turn must then drop the case and not sue the farmers.

The reason why I say so is that the farmers are not dependent on the PepsiCo potato varieties. There are abundant alternative varieties of potatoes to choose from.

The protection of PepsiCo’s rights does not impinge on the farmer’s right to livelihood and does not unfairly reduce choice for the farmer. It does not contribute to food security problems and so social justice issues do not apply either.

It is not correct in this case for the political parties or the government of India to shy away from protecting the rights of PepsiCo in this matter.

Read the article that inspired this post here:

Update: Pepsico has withdrawn the lawsuits against the farmers, and is working with the farmers and the Gujarat Government to find an amicable solution.

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